An electrocardiogram is a simple and painless test that measures and records the electrical activity of the heartbeat. It is often abbreviated as EKG or ECG. This cardiac test is very commonly used as a screening tool to determine many cardiac abnormalities.
This procedure requires the patient to lie on an examination table and 10 electrodes will be placed on his/her chest, arms, and legs. Leads will be clipped to the electrodes which are attached to an EKG machine. Once the test is started the electrodes will detect the electrical impulses of the heart and transmits them to the EKG machine. A graph is constructed showing the timing of each heartbeat producing a pattern of waves and lines.
From an EKG a doctor can determine how long it takes for an electrical wave to pass through the heart by measuring the intervals between each beat. Cardiologists can determine if the heart rate is normal, slow, fast, or irregular. They may also be able to reveal that parts of the heart are enlarged or overworked. If there are abnormalities present in an EKG this often leads to further testing to completely identify the nature of the problem and to discuss treatment options with the cardiologist.
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